KRON 4 | Tailgating 101: How to Party and Picnic Safely

Football and baseball are synonymous with tailgate parties, cooking outdoors, and picnics. That means you’ll need to pay special attention to menu planning, preparation, and safe food handling practices. Since you’re without a refrigerator and running water, here’s how to keep your food safe all day.

KRON4_Safe Tailgating1

What to Pack

Picnic_iStock_000016712596XSmall

  1. Lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving safely cooked food.
  2. Insulated coolers to keep food protected and cold OR hot.
  3. A meat thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are cooked at high enough temperatures to destroy harmful bacteria and foods are reheated to safe-to-eat temperatures.
  4. fridge and freezer thermometer for coolers.
  5. An oven thermometer for hot insulators.
  6. An instant-read thermometer for reheating leftovers.
  7. Clean, wet, disposable cloths, hand sanitizer, and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  8. Disposable gloves for cleaning or touching raw meat.
  9. Smaller containers or foil for leftovers.
  10. Water for cleaning.

Danger Zone for Cold Foods – Above 40ºF

Fridge Freezer Thermometers
Fridge and Freezer Thermometer
  • Place a fridge and freezer thermometer in your cooler. Be sure your food stays at 40ºF or below.
  • Cold food should be stored in a well-chilled cooler.
  • Do not leave the food out for more than two hours (one hour if weather is above 90ºF).
  • Keep food in the shade and out of the sun.
  • Keep perishable cooked food, such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, chicken, and potato/pasta salads “refrigerator cold”, so keep it next to the ice.

Danger Zones for Hot Foods – Below 140ºF

  • Do NOT partially cook meat or poultry at home ahead of time, then transport the half-cooked food to the party/picnic. Doing so allows harmful bacteria to thrive and multiply.
  • Hot foods like chili, soup and stew need to stay hot (140ºF or above).
  • Eat hot food within two hours.
  • To transport and store piping hot foods, use an insulated container* like a cooler.
Cooler
Your cooler can become a hot insulator.

*How to prepare a hot insulator:

  1. Heat up some hot bricks. Wrap them in heavy-duty foil first, then heat up in a 300 degree oven for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, warm up your insulator (e.g., a cooler):  Fill it with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, and empty.
  3. Place newspaper and brown paper grocery bags on the bottom to insulate.
  4. Add your hot bricks.
  5. Oven thermometerLine the insulator with thick towels to further insulate and prevent melting the plastic if inserting a hot pot off the stove.
  6. Place an oven thermometer in the insulator to ensure it stays hot enough.
  7. Keep the insulated container closed and the food should stay hot (140º or above) for the whole game.

KRON4_Safe Tailgating8

How to Cool Large Pots of Hot Food

If you’re cooking hot food the night before (e.g., a pot of chili), it needs to be refrigerated after cooking. WARNING: Food needs to chill quickly to avoid bacteria growth during the cooling process. To do so, separate into smaller containers and set the containers in an ice bath. When cool, refrigerate.

Handling Raw Meat, Poultry and Fish

    • Cooking raw meat is risky unless all food handlers are diligent about keeping utensils, hands and surfaces clean to prevent cross-contamination.

KRON4_Safe Tailgating6

  • If transporting perishable raw meat (e.g., hamburger patties, sausages, chicken, fish), place it in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
  • Wrap raw meat securely to prevent juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. Ideally, keep these raw foods in a separate cooler.
  • Use a meat thermometer to measure internal cooking temperatures.
KRON4_Safe Tailgating9
Use a meat thermometer when cooking raw meat.

Remember… a cooler is not a refrigerator. Keep the most perishable items next to the ice.

Safe minimum internal temperatures:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks, roasts, and chops (145ºF)
  • Ground meats (160ºF)
  • Poultry (165ºF)
  • Leftovers (165ºF)

NOTE! If cooking marinated raw meat at the tailgate site, be sure not to reuse the marinade unless it’s boiled first to destroy harmful bacteria. Be sure cooked food is placed on a clean platter free of any raw meat juices.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: If you can’t keep the food hot while transporting it to the picnic/tailgate party site, cook the food the night before, and cool it in the refrigerator. On the day of the party/picnic, pack the food in a well-chilled cooler and reheat it to 165ºF on a camping stove.

KRON4_Safe Tailgating3

KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating

Halloween parties, potlucks, and trick-or-treating can break even the most disciplined of dieters. Here are my top 10 tips to survive this annual sugar fest that I shared with KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

KRON4_Halloween Tricks7

The Top 10 Tricks

1. Buy trick-or-treat candy you don’t like. Buy a candy that won’t tempt you.

2. Buy candy the DAY OF Halloween. There will ALWAYS be candy left in the stores — unless of course, you’ll looking for your favorite candy! You may also save some money (thanks to clearance sales) as well as save on calories.

3. Eat dark chocolate — 85% or more of cacao. 

  • Milk chocolate contains more added sugar and fat. Due to their antioxidant content, deep dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by nearly 40 percent, and reduce the risk of dementia. 
  • Per a 2004 study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, dark chocolate improved blood flow in arteries.
  • Eat in moderation as it still packs plenty of calories. Limit to 1/2 to 1 ounce.

Note: White chocolate is highly processed which means it’s lost most or all of its antioxidants.

KRON4_Halloween Tricks3

4. Keep the wrappers. Keep evidence of what you eat in front of you. It’s easy to forget how many times you’ve dipped into the candy bowl.

  • Two studies showed that people tend to rely on visual cues, such as the number of chicken bones on their plates, to decide whether they’re full or still hungry.
KRON4_Halloween Tricks4
One handful is equivalent to 1,400 jumping jacks!

5. Avoid the candy dish. The candy dish encourages eating mindlessly — i.e., “grab-and-go syndrome”. 

  • Scientists believe you make hundreds of unconscious food decisions daily, but seeing food pushes you to consciously decide whether to eat it. Seeing it more often increases the likelihood you’ll choose to eat the food.
  • A handful (1.5 oz; about 1/4 cup or 1 shot glass) of M & M’s can pack on 210 calories. To burn off just one handful, the average size person would need to do 1,400 jumping jacks which would take about 24 minutes (1 jumping jack per second)!

6. Stay on track and meet your fitness goals on the 31st. Don’t let the occasion be an excuse to give up on your goals.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating”

KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head

Occupational and recreational habits have led to real pains in the neck. Tension and poor posture rank high as the most common pain generators. KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, helps me demonstrate the effects of poor posture and how to fight the aching forces of gravity.

KRON 4 PosturePain4

Forward Head Posture (FHP)

One of the most common postural problems is forward head posture — for both young and old. Forward head posture is also known as:

    • Text neck, computer/notebook neck
    • Sofa neck
    • Book or reader’s neck
    • Driver’s neck

KRON 4 PosturePain1Your head should sit directly on your neck and shoulders. Think of a golf ball on a tee. But the head is more like a bowling ball (weighing about 10 to 11 lbs) than a golf ball. Your neck and shoulders have to carry the burden of this “bowling ball” all day. Supporting and moving the human head is a challenging and tiring task.

Carrying your head is an isometric contraction — you’re actually “strength training”. An isometric exercise is a static hold where the joint angle and muscle length does not change during the muscle contraction. 

Posture_AdobeStock_113073952_croppedCorrect posture: Your ears line up over your shoulder blades.

Incorrect posture: Along with forward head posture, your shoulders also “round” and roll forward.

Causes of Forward Head Posture

Repetitive use of computers, TV, video games, trauma, and even backpacks/laptop bags have forced the body forward. Also, general muscle weakness from illness or aging can cause FHP —  that is, you’re too weak to hold your own head up anymore.

KRON 4 PosturePain2

When you’re holding your head forward (out of alignment), you are putting additional strain on your neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles. The result? Muscle fatigue and an aching neck and back. Here’s why…    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Here’s Why You May Be Carrying a 40-lb Head”

Marijuana and Stroke Risk

Marijuana Logo High Quality

As marijuana is becoming more widely accessible and used for medical or recreational use, its use has been associated with increased risks for stroke and heart failure.

Research* presented at the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session, found marijuana use was associated with a significantly increased risk for:

Marijuana use was also associated with risk factors known to raise cardiovascular risk, such as:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use

After adjusting for those risk factors, marijuana use was independently linked with the following in their analysis:

  • 26 percent higher risk of stroke
  • 10 percent higher risk of developing heart failure   

Continue reading “Marijuana and Stroke Risk”

Junk Food Leads to More Than Waist Gain

Americans kill themselves from the food they eat.

Heart disease is often blamed on genetics (your mom, dad, grandparents…) BUT over 360,000 Americans manage to kill themselves each year from the food they eat. Cardiovascular disease is the country’s number one killer and coronary artery disease or ischemic heart disease (where plaque-filled arteries literally choke off oxygen to your heart) leads the way.

Blausen_0257_CoronaryArtery_Plaque_credit_edited-1

Brain and Heart_600x1022Coronary heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States per year. But plaque not only builds up in your coronary arteries, it builds up in the vessels of your brain as well. And the result? Your brain shrinks.

BRAIN CELLS DIE

Unfortunately, the fat-laden, sugar-heavy junk you consume (and find so addictive) often packs on pounds around your middle. Abdominal obesity has been shown to kill brain cells. According to a study published in the Annals of Neurology, having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults.